Sunday, August 03, 2014
A Pictorial Biker's Guide to the BC - Washington Loop: 2000 km of Heavenly Curves.
What do you do when the dirt roads are off limits because of forest-fire danger and you need your riding fix? Well one possibility is to explore some of the best black-top you can find in this province and south of the border. So, together with my wife, and with reference to DHBC and DHW we headed out on Siouxsie 2, a 2013 VStrom 650 to unwind the curves of some of BC and Washington State's best roads. Because there are so many maps, pictures and vids of this trip, I have taken the liberty of splitting the route into 4 phases, referenced above by the white, blue, red and green routes.
Overall this is a 2100 km route, including 3 ferries (one inland cable ferry, one BC ferry, and one Washington State Department of Transport Ferry). You might baulk at the cost, but inland ferries are FREE (yes free...) and the Washington State ferries are half the cost of there overpriced BC counterparts. Of course if you're not a native of Vancouver Island, then this is only a one free ferry ride to enjoy!
A note on my riding experience and the bike: I am a long time rider, but I have only undertaken multi-day bike trips on dirt bikes, never on a road bike. This trip was a first for me in many ways: the first 2 up trip; the first long range multi day trip; the first cross border trip; and the first on my Vstrom. We packed light - incredibly light, and planned to stay in motels, rather than camp, as I initially wanted to, but a happy wife is a happy life as they say! It was a smart move for many reasons, not least the big storm we encountered, and the forest fires...
The bike is a 2013 VStrom 650. I have never owned a Vstrom before; in fact, I had always looked down my nose at the pre 2012 iteration as as ugly, boring and cheap. I've ridden lots of bikes, and it was a ride on a friend's 2012 Vstrom which converted me. I was seriously worried about many aspects of 2 upping a 650 on such a long trip, both from power and suspension aspects. I needn't have worried, adjusting the rear suspension and inflating the tires to specs put paid to any worries about the handling. The stock seat is unusually good for a Jap bike. The stock windshield isn't: get an 18 inch adjustable Madstad and your life with the Strom will become serene. This ride is nothing but curves and hills as you will see, and the bike was light, easy and safe feeling during all kinds of road surfaces, weathers and speeds. The engine is a gem. More like turbine than anything else, it had plenty of legs to whisk us along at between 100-130kmh easily with guts to spare for passing (with a gear change, of course).
Because we were packing so lightly, I had the stock tool kit, plus a can of chain lube, no inner-tubes, plugs, oil or spares of any kind for the bike. Potentially stupid yes, but given the Vstrom's reputation as reliable and easy to live with, and the fact that it is used in places as far a field as South America and Africa by commercial tour outfits we felt pretty secure in trusting it to get us back. Needless to say, the bike was perfect and neither of us would have any hesitation crossing the continent on it after this. If you want character and cachet though, get something else; they're the Ford Truck of bikes.
Over the next few days, I will post the following and update the links:
Phase One: Horsehoe Bay to Vernon (BC) via Pemberton, Cache Creek, and Kamloops.
Phase Two: Vernon to Nelson (BC) via Fauquier, Nakusp, New Denver and Kaslo.
Phase Three: Nelson to Omak (WA) via Trail, Kettle Falls, and Tonasket.
Phase Four: Omak to Oak Harbor (WA), via Grand Coulee, Bridgeport, Pateros, Twisp, Winthrop, Washington Pass, and Sedro-Woolley.
Finally, we did this trip clockwise, but it would be just as enjoyable the other way around...perhaps a future ride for us, we liked it that much.
Editor's Note: This is my first post on The Real Motorcycle Diaries Blog: Andy any me have decided to amalgamate our blogs rather than duplicate on separate sites, so DR SIOUXSIE'S Travels will no longer be updated. The posts will stay as an archive, but from now on, I'll be posting with Andy, on this blog site.